Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Tell Doctors, Nurses, EMTs or Others You Know That Work in the Health Care System About the AODA Alliance’s Discussion Paper on Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities
April 15, 2020
Please help us ensure that no people with disabilities who get the COVID-19 virus face any discrimination due to their disability when they seek help from our health care system. This Update offers you ways that you can quickly help, while you remain self-isolating at home.
Yesterday, the AODA Alliance made public a short but extremely important document. It is our Discussion Paper ensuring that medical triage or rationing of health care services during the COVID-19 crisis does not discriminate against patients with disabilities. We urge you to share this Discussion Paper far and wide. We set out specific action tips below.
The AODA Alliance‘s April 14, 2020 Discussion Paper describes 9 hypothetical situations which could arise in our health care system if the growing number of COVID-19 patients is greater than our hospitals can serve. We want to make sure that no patient with disabilities is denied needed medical care because of their disability, or is discriminated against because of their disability.
We are very concerned about this because since at least late last month, the Ontario Government has had in circulation a protocol on rationing or triage of medical services during the COVID-19 crisis. On April 8, 2020, the ARCH Disability Law Centre made public an open letter, signed by over 200 community organizations (including the AODA Alliance ) and by thousands of individuals. That open letter raises serious concerns with the Ontario Government’s medical care triage or rationing protocol that was in circulation. The open letter called on the Ontario Government to ensure that any medical care rationing or triage never discriminates against patients because they have a disability.
For our part, the AODA Alliance prepared our new Discussion Paper on this topic to kick start a much-needed public discussion of this topic. We were delighted that within minutes of making this Discussion Paper public, CBC Radio in Winnipeg invited AODA Alliance Chair, David Lepofsky, to appear on its afternoon program “Up to Speed” to discuss this topic. We are eager to spread the word as much as we can.
We regret that the Ontario Ministry of Health, responsible for our health care system, has not reached out to us to engage in this discussion. Ontarians with disabilities cannot wait, given the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus and the growing demand on health care services. We again offer the Government our help. We believe that the grassroots disability community must be a key part of Government discussions in this area.
We want to get our Discussion Paper directly to people working in the health care system. We are eager for them to read the nine specific examples we give of situations where discrimination against patients with disabilities must not be permitted. We emphasize that these are not the only situations that can give rise to concern. That is why we’ve tried to start a public dialogue, via this Discussion Paper.
* If you know any physician, nurse, emergency medical technician (EMT), hospital administrator, nursing home or other long term care administrator, or anyone else working in the health care system, send them our Discussion Paper titled, Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities. It is available online at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/a-discussion-paper-on-ensuring-that-medical-triage-or-rationing-of-health-care-services-during-the-covid-19-crisis-does-not-discriminate-against-patients-with-disabilities/
Urge them to read it and to share it with other health care professionals.
* Post our Discussion Paper’s link on your website and your Facebook page and urge your Facebook friends to share it with any physicians, nurses, EMTs or others working in the health care system.
* Call, text, email, tweet or Facebook message your member of the Ontario Legislature. Let them know about our Discussion Paper. Tell them to make sure the situations addressed in our Discussion Paper are not permitted to happen in the Government’s medical triage and rationing protocol.
* Contact the media. Urge them to cover our Discussion Paper and the issues it addresses, like CBC Radio Winnipeg’s Up to Speed program commendably did on April 14, 2020. They can email the AODA Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a speaker or more information on this.
* If you know of situations where people with disabilities have faced possible denial of needed medical services due to their disability, let the media and your MPP know as soon as possible. As a volunteer disability coalition, the AODA Alliance is not able or equipped to give advice or advocate in specific cases. If you are a person with a disability in Ontario, you can reach ARCH Disability Law Centre for free confidential legal information, referrals, and summary
legal advice. For more information about how to contact ARCH, please use the following link:
* If you are a member of a religious community, urge your congregation and your spiritual leader to circulate our Discussion Paper and to take a public stand in support of the concerns it identifies, so that patients with disabilities don’t suffer discrimination in our health care system during the COVID-19 crisis.
*If you have not already done so, watch our April 7, 2020 Virtual Public Forum, jointly organized with the Ontario Autism Coalition. It is on the important subject of what Government must now do to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities during its emergency COVID-19 planning. This includes the issue of medical triage and rationing, among other important and inter-connected issues. It is captioned and has American Sign Language interpretation.
In just 8 days, our Virtual Public Forum has been viewed more than 1,700 times. That is very encouraging. Spread the word to others to check it out. It is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ23it9ULjc
As of now, the Ontario Government’s Ministries of Health, Education, Colleges and Universities and Children, Community and Social Services have not reached out to us to discuss any of the practical recommendations for action that our ten experts brought forward during our Virtual Public Forum.
There have now been 440 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no good comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report.
There have now been 21 days since we wrote Ontario Premier Doug Ford on March 25, 2020 to urge specific action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. He has not answered. His office has not contacted us. The plight facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis is made even worse by that delay. We repeat that we are reaching out our hand to help the Government.